PM stresses pooling ECO resources for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine

ISLAMABAD:Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday called upon the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) to devise a joint strategy for ensuring equitable access and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine for the public good.

The prime minister, in his address to the virtual 14th ECO Summit themed ‘Regional Economic Cooperation in the aftermath of COVID-19’, stressed the need for mobilizing the resources of ECO countries to fight the pandemic effectively.

Imran Khan opened the summit in Pakistan’s capacity as the chair of the 13th Summit held in Islamabad and lauded Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current chair, for his timely initiative amidst the COVID-29 scenario.

He said since the COVID-19 pandemic was still not over, there must be a collective effort for production of vaccine on an affordable rate and be declared as the public good.

“No one will be safe from virus unless everyone is safe,” he said, adding Pakistan had launched the COVID-19 inoculation with frontline workers on priority.

He mentioned that the ECO members states were severely affected by the health and economic crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic with over 150 million people hit by the virus and over 2.5 million lost their lives.

He said the developing countries, including the ECO member countries, had been disproportionately affected with economy declined and poverty increased.

Imran Khan said Pakistan faced challenges during the pandemic, however, adopted a people and poor-centric approach to balance saving of lives and livelihoods.

Despite the financial constraints, he said, his government allocated an unprecedented $8 billion to the poorest and most vulnerable households through small businesses and direct handouts.